last updated April 14, 2021

The benefits of drinking water (and tips for making it less boring)

by Rob Arthur

Drinking water isn’t the most exciting subject, but it can have a tremendous impact on how you look, feel, and perform.

What are the benefits of drinking water?

Water is essential for life.

It acts as a solvent for biochemical reactions and medium for transport, assists in body temperature regulation, and maintains blood volume to support cardiovascular function renal filtration (1).

Proper hydration helps promote skin health, neurological function, gastrointestinal function, and may even help with reaching and maintaining healthy body weight and composition (2).

What are the effects of dehydration?

Dehydration, on the other hand, can play a role in decreased physical performance, disruptions in mood and cognitive function, fatigue, confusion, headache, anger, constipation, dry skin, bladder and kidney stones, asthma, diabetic hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke (3).

How much water should you drink?

Daily water intake recommendations vary, but most fall around 2500 – 3500 ml, or 85 – 100 oz., per day, including water from beverages and from food moisture (4).

You could measure your intake with a specific target in mind, but your sense of thirst is generally pretty reliable for preventing dehydration (5, 6, 7).

What about other drinks like juice, soda, wine, or beer?

While other beverages might be able to help you hydrate, drinking your calories might be something to consider dialing back.

Calories in liquid form – from alcohol, carbohydrates/sugar, protein, or fat – don’t have the same compensatory effects on our hunger and satiety signals as solid food, and can promote excessive energy intake and weight gain (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

Common sources of liquid calories are soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffees, butter coffees, sweet tea, fruit juices, smoothies, shakes, milk, plant-based milk imposters, and, alas, beer, wine, and liquor.

Reading nutrition facts can help you identify potential sources of liquid calories in your own drinking habits.

How do I start drinking more water?

Consider starting each day with 30 – 40 oz. of plain water immediately upon waking.

You might find this approach to make a dent in your hydration needs earlier in the day, leading to less legitimate thirst later leading you to other (caloric, specifically) options.

That is, if you’re looking to cut down on caloric drinks, it might help to not have to struggle with desire for sweetness and legitimate thirst at the same time.

The rest of the day, prioritize non-caloric options like more water, unsweetened tea, plain black coffee, or drinks flavored with alternative sweeteners.

You might find flavored carbonated waters like LaCroix, which are flavored but not directly sweetened, to be a nice non-caloric option.

If you prefer something a bit more sweet, you might enjoy something like Zevia, a stevia-sweetened soda alternative.

You don’t have to immediately eliminate your favorite drinks to look and feel awesome.

If you’re feeling resistance to change what you drink, that’s totally normal.

You, might, however, ask yourself some questions, openly and honestly, without judgement.

Why do you feel the need to have every sip blow your mind with sweetness?

Have you conditioned yourself to rely on drink for entertainment or distraction?

You might consider similar questions if you’re immediately thinking of alcohol.

What role do those nightly beers, wines, or pours play in your life?

Are they serving as an escape from other factors of life you might want to address?

These questions aren’t easy, but they can be quite valuable.

That all being said, only you can decide what approach works best for you.

There’s no need to change everything at once.

If you prefer that approach, that’s totally cool.

Otherwise, pick just one change you can make today.

Take just one step.

See how it works for you.

Make adjustments, if necessary.

Rinse and repeat.

Start where you are.

Do what you can.

You’ve got this.


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